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US life expectancy falling further behind other countries: Study

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Life expectancy in the United States has declined for the first time in more than two decades. (Getty images)

Life expectancy in the United States is expected to fall further behind other high-income countries by 2030, new research predicts, a development linked to unmet healthcare needs due to a lack of universal healthcare insurance and financial costs.

Life expectancy in the US will increase to 83.3 years for women and 79.5 years for men by the year 2030, one of the lowest among developed countries, according to a study published Wednesday by Imperial College London,  in collaboration with the World Health Organization.

This was partly due to a lack of universal health coverage in the US, and also due to factors such as relatively high child and maternal mortality rates, and high rates of homicides and obesity, the study said.

South Koreans are likely to have the highest life expectancy in the world by that year, the study found. Researchers predicting a girl born in South Korea in 2030 should expect to live 90.8 years, while a boy could reach 84.1 years.

The researchers say the US and other nations could take lessons from South Korea when it comes to improving life expectancies.

“For example, South Korea projected gains may be the result of continued improvements in economic status which has improved nutrition for children, access to health care and medical technology across the whole population,” study author James Bennett, PhD, of Imperial College London, told CBS News.

“South Korea has lower disease risk factors — for example, they appear better at dealing with high blood pressure and have low rates of obesity. A very equitable society means that the whole population has benefitted from improvements.”

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Life expectancy in the United States has declined for the first time in more than two decades, according to a report published in December by the National Center for Health Statistics.

The US death rate increased 1.2 percent last year, the first time it has increased since 1993 and that led to a 0.1 percent drop in life expectancy, the report said.

The report shows that a decades-long trend of rising life expectancy in the US could be ending. In most of the years since World War II, life expectancy in the US has inched up, thanks to medical advances, public health campaigns and better nutrition and education.

In 2015, a study by researchers at Princeton University brought attention to the unexpected rise in mortality rates among white middle-aged Americans, a trend that was blamed on overdoses, alcoholism and suicide, three conditions that are sometimes called diseases of despair.


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